Saturday, March 15, 2008

IR Lesson No. 1 BAI

Lesson one consisted of Basic Attitude Instrument Flying (BAI) , instrument scan and interpretation and of course aircraft control. The Elite RC-1 sim must play the role of many aircraft so it was a bit different then the Piper Archer II that I fly. I will say this, it sure was easy to climb in and out of!

Attitude instrument flying consisted of learning the aircraft performance with power, pitch and bank attitude. The sim does not provide you with the opportunity for your body to react to "feeling" or "sensation", this will come when we actually fly. An instrument pilot must learn to control the aircraft with the basic attitude flying skills.

We started out with the view screen shut off flying along somewhere in sim land between KOQN Brandywine Airport and KMQS Chester County Airport. I was level at 3000' on a heading of 270* as Brian (Flight Instructor) gave me various headings to turn to. At first I made my turns and changed course without following what I would do in the "real world" flying 679er. So, before Brian had the chance to grill me I started to treat this as the real deal, as if in 679er. My radio skills kicked in and I twisted the heading bug for every new course change, all the while keeping the scan going.

We moved on to slow flight and I went through the process to configure the aircraft. I again went through turns to the left and right setting the heading bug and confirming each course change while working on my scan. We then established that the stall for the sim was around 60 to 63 kts and that once the stall horn provided warning you were nosing over instantly. I thought it wouldn't break as much if flying coordinated (ball centered) but the sim was gone in an instant. Let's just say that I am happy I was in the sim and not flying in the soup. The Private pilot lessons kick in with the immediate stall then spin recovery sequence....reduce throttle, center ailerons, apply full rudder opposite direction of spin, yoke forward and as the rotation stops neutralize rudder and recover from dive. Just that easy...yeah right. I followed the sequence as it was ingrained in my head and it came as easy as taking a breath, the only problem is that I had no reference to the world around me. Only instruments and it wasn't pretty. I left a smoking hole somewhere in sim land near Marsh Creek state park. Not a good feeling.

Brian said relax it's something different and you will grasp it. Ok, fire me back up and let's give it another go. Round two was a lot like the first go and I left another divot in sim world. We did review what my steps were and where I lost control and what I needed to do to fix it. I was "over controling" is what it boiled down to. Round three I finally left the Attitude Indicator/Artificial Horzon AI out of my scan once it tumbled and worked with the turn coordinator airspeed and altimeter. I did better this time and only ended up flying along upside down, but straight and level. I quickly fixed that problem with an aileron roll and continued, this did not make my CFI laugh. Round four I finally got a handle on which way was up and gave up on the fixation with the turn coordinator, this was a good recovery and no passengers would have lost their lunch. Thank God! I will be practicing with the sim at home and I will start looking for some spin training.

Last on the list was adding some VOR tracking into my scan. Brian asked for me to take us home as he brought the Garmin 530 online. I dialed in the Modena VOR (MXE), gave a twist on the Directional Gyro (DG) heading bug and the Course Deviation Indicator (CDI) and away I went. We worked on some climbs along the way and terminated the session once crossing the MXE VOR.

1.2 hours in the book! Lesson one review drives home the fact that proper scan is vital to the instrument pilot and interpretation even more so. I added 1.2 hours in the log book and had a bunch of fun. I can tell, this will be a lot of work but the rewards will be justified. I'm on the schedule for Friday and Saturday.

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